The sea and maritime spaces have long been neglected in the field of Jewish studies despite their relevance in the context of Jewish religious texts and historical narratives. The images of Noah’s arche, king Salomon’s maritime activities or the miracle of the parting of the Red Sea immediately come into mind, however, only illustrate a few aspects of Jewish maritime activities. Consequently, the relations of Jews and the sea has to be seen in a much broader spatial and temporal framework in order to understand the overall importance of maritime spaces in Jewish history and culture.
Almost sixty years after Samuel Tolkowsky’s pivotal study on maritime Jewish history and culture and the publication of his book “They Took to the Sea” in 1964, this volume of PaRDeS seeks to follow these ideas, revisit Jewish history and culture from different maritime perspectives and shed new light on current research in the field, which brings together Jewish and maritime studies.
The articles in this volume therefore reflect a wide range of topics and illustrate how maritime perspectives can enrich our understanding of Jewish history and culture and its entanglement with the sea – especially in modern times. They study different spaces and examine their embedded narratives and functions. They follow in one way or another the discussions which evolved in the last decades, focused on the importance of spatial dimensions and opened up possibilities for studying the production and construction of spaces, their influences on cultural practices and ideas, as well as structures and changes of social processes. By taking these debates into account, the articles offer new insights into Jewish history and culture by taking us out to “sea” and inviting us to revisit Jewish history and culture from different maritime perspectives.